Friday, April 11, 2008

Meanwhile, GenCorp's Aerojet gets contract from NASA Glenn to continue beyond RCS with low-weight methane

SACRAMENTO Aerojet, a GenCorp Inc. company, announced a contract award today from NASA Glenn Research Center for the development of a 5,500lb thrust Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane engine.

NASA's Altair lunar lander program and the NASA Exploration Technology Development Program have partnered to create the NASA Propulsion Cryogenic Advanced Development project to support methane technology maturation and advancement. The project is managed jointly by NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, NASA Marshall in Huntsville and Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The time sensitive engine development effort will provide the NASA Altair lunar lander program with validated methane engine performance and technology risk reduction data prior to the Altair propulsion System Requirements and Preliminary Design Reviews. The objective of the new contract is to design, fabricate and begin testing an Aerojet 5,500lb thrust methane engine by January 2009 to support the data needs of the Altair SRR.

The NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Studies along with other NASA study activities, has identified Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane propulsion systems as a promising option for future space vehicles. These systems create the potential for substantial savings in overall systems mass when compared to conventional hypergolic systems.

"Aerojet is well positioned to accomplish this rapid development effort because of our research and development investments in Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane and other green propellant technologies," said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet's vice president of Space Systems.

The new contract will extend Aerojet's Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane development expertise beyond the 100lbf RCS contract already delivered to White Sands Test Facility for altitude testing.

The 100lbf engine program, which has been highly successful in RCS development, can operate on Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane rather than hydrazine, and it has demonstrated very fast pulsing capability in a flight prototype. This technology development activity will provide NASA with timely methane ascent main engine technology data to support its system design studies and decision making.

SOURCE Aerojet - 04/10/200

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